'Breathing Pottery' which has been carried on for
Lee, skill descendant
color and bellied body of Onggie never presents any gorgeous or
refined look like that of the porcelain with a pale greyish-green
glaze but Onggie has the warmth of motherhood from its simplicity.
Slightly leaning your ears on Onggie, you may feel that you can
hear the Onggie breathing. Keeping the breathing in earth Onggie
has been traditionally the longest friend of the poor for a long
time in the past. Meanwhile Onggies began to disappear one by one
in accordance with the age of industrialization. Under Japanese
colonization Korean Onggies were replaced by glittering Minium Onggies.
After the Japanese colonization Korean Onggies became another hand-me-down
due to the emergence of plastics, apartments, and refrigerators.
Mr. Lee Hak Soo in Miryug-myun,
Bosung-gun, Jeonnam-do, Korea(age 44, teaching assistant in Onggie
inheritance) is the
son of Mr. Lee Ok Dong who was the possessor of Onggie craftsmanship,
the National Intangible Asset No. 96 and passed away in May 1994.
"My father didn't want
me to be an Onggie craftsman because Onggie craftsmen
were treated with contempt. And so he just wanted to
stop the inheritance of Onggie craftsmanship in his
day. But it was fate that I became an Onggie craftsman.
I decided to take over the family tradition in 1976
when I went to university because I was afraid that
there would be a break in the family tradition. My father
was so angry that he didn't talk to me for about a month.
But eventually he agreed with me. But he never showed
me any hospitality as a son. He trained me very hard
to achieve a high standard. He ordered me to sell Onggies
at the open market. When I sold all of the Onggies stacked
in the house he finally allowed me to touch earth. I
recognized that why he didn't want to hand this skill
down to me. Despite my best efforts I could not make
a living at this kind of work so I resigned to running
an optics shop in town, Bosung-up. This gave me the
freedom to reproduce Onggies. Actually I still live
on the incomes from the shop." said Mr. Lee.
Lee Hak Soo has handed down the family tradition in Onggie craftsmanship
for the ninth generation and tries to preserve and embody these
traditional features and methods in the reproduction of Onggies.
Modern Onggies are just like those Japanese Onggies which glitter
with glaze and cannot breathe.